Jewish learning The Hevrayya [Companions]

By Melila Hellner-Reshed
mazal tov graduates - commencement

Melil Hellner-Reshed received a honorary degree from Hebrew College at  Commencement on June 6, 2021 and delivered these remarks at the ceremony.


melia-HellnerI’m honoured to speak on the occasion of the commencement this year

What does my heart murmur that I wish my mouth will reveal today. Life is more mysterious than anything you might think. People are more amazing than we might feel. The pits of sorrow and pain cannot be passed by silently. grieving is needed. The wellsprings of joy and love are there to be drawn from. God manifests in endless faces.
The Torah is being given always and she is filled with concealed surprises and mysteries awaiting to be revealed. The Shechinah weeps grieving over the violence her children are causing each other all over the world—we can support her with acts of justice צדק and chesed חסד with our fellow human beings and with life on our planet.
The Jewish tradition has great treasures to be quarried by you.

I wish to share with you one of my most beloved Zohar moments when a mysterious celestial voice calls out its wake up call, and pronounces the prerequisites of joining the circle of the companions—the hevrayya, here in our world. I wish today to turn the words of this call to a prayer and blessing;

“The voice retuned as before and said:
…O low, sleeping ones, close-eyed, awake!
Who among you turns darkness into light,”

מָאן מִנְכוֹן דִּי חֲשׁוֹכָא מְהַפְּכָן לִנְהוֹרָא

May you find on the paths of life you will walk on, your ability, tiny, small or great, to turn darkness into light—to learn darkness and transform it into light, through acknowledging, healing, teaching and praying .

“Who among you tastes the bitter as sweet before arriving here?”
.מאן מנכון טָעֲמִין מְרִירָא לְמִתְקָא עַד לָא יֵיתוֹן הָכָא

May you find the patience, perseverance and arichut ruach—extended breath, to be able to take in and taste and experience the bitterness, the maror of life until layer after layer of knowing it allows you to find the sweet in it, the mor myrh.

“Who among you awaits each day the light that shines when the King visits the doe.”

מָאן מִנְּכוֹן דִּמְחַכָּאן בְּכָל יוֹמָא לִנְהוֹרָא דְנָהִיר בְּשַׁעֲתָא דְמַלְכָּא פָּקִיד לְאַיַּלְתָּא

May you have the steadfastness and optimism, tikva and hope to await the light of dawn every day, to believe that the king and the doe, the masculine and feminine, kadosh baruch hu and Shechina, or any elements distanced and estranged from each other—may have moments of connection and harmony.
Sometimes just by being present with shevach and praise at the dawn of a new day.

Amen.

החברייא

קול חזר כמקודם ואמר:
עליונים טמירים, סתומים, פקוחי עיניים, אלו המשוטטים בכל העולם, הסתכלו וראו!
תחתונים, ישנים, סתומים בחוריכם, התעוררו!
מי מכם המהפכים חשך לאור, וטועמים מר למתוק בטרם יבואו הנה?
מי מכם המחכים כל יום לאור המאיר בשעה שהמלך פוקד את האילה,
ומתכבד ונקרא מלך מלכי העולם?
ומתכבד ונקרא מלך מלכי העולם?
מי שלא מצפה לזה בכל יום באותו עולם, אין לו חלק כאן!
(זוהר, ח”א ד ע”א)

זוהר מנוקד חלק א דף ד/א
קָלָא אַהֲדַר כְּמִלְקַדְּמִין וְאָמַר עִלָּאִין טְמִירִין סְתִימִין פְּקִיחֵי עֵינָא אִנּוּן דִּמְשָׁטְטִין בְּכָל עָלְמָא אִסְתְּכָּלוּ וְחֲמוּ. תַּתָּאִין דְּמִיכִין סְתִימִין בְּחוֹרֵיכוֹן אִתְעָרוּ:
מָאן מִנְכוֹן דִּי חֲשׁוֹכָא מְהַפְּכָן לִנְהוֹרָא וְטָעֲמִין מְרִירָא לְמִתְקָא עַד לָא יֵיתוֹן הָכָא.
מָאן מִנְּכוֹן דִּמְחַכָּאן בְּכָל יוֹמָא לִנְהוֹרָא דְנָהִיר בְּשַׁעֲתָא דְמַלְכָּא פָּקִיד לְאַיַּלְתָּא וְאִתְיַיקַר וְאִתְקְרֵי מַלְכָּא מִכָּל מַלְכִין דְּעָלְמָא

The Hevrayya [Companions]

The voice retuned as before and said:
O high, hidden, concealed ones, open-eyed, roaming the entire world, gaze and see!
O low, sleeping ones, close-eyed, awake!
Who among you turns darkness into light,
Who tastes the bitter as sweet before arriving here?
Who among you awaits each day the light that shines when the King visits the doe and is glorified and is called the King of all kings of the world?
Whoever does not await this each day in that world has no portion here.
(Zohar 1:4a)


Melila Hellner-Eshed is a senior research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, where she initiated and directs Maskilot, an intensive two program for women doctoral candidates. She has taught Jewish mysticism and Zohar in the department of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for the past 25 years.

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